Zimbabwe experiencing its worst hunger emergency: WFP

Geneva, Aug 8 (IANS) Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst hunger emergency, the World Food Programme (WFP) has said, adding it is boosting food assistance to the people most affected by drought, flooding, and economic crisis.

"With Zimbabwe experiencing its worst-ever hunger emergency, WFP is stepping up food assistance. At the same time, it's working to build the capacity of chronically hungry communities to withstand climate shocks," WFP spokesperson Herve Verhoosel said in a statement on Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

Climate shocks such as cyclones or drought have an immediate impact, especially on the rural population, he said.

More than a third of the southern African nation's rural population - 3.6 million people - will be food insecure by October, said WFP. By next January this tally is expected to increase to 5.5 million during the inter-harvest season.

"Most of Zimbabwe's 60 districts will exhaust their maize stocks by October," said Verhoosel, adding that WFP is providing food assistance to 700,000 people in August, and when crop stocks decline, "we will scale up for the season between harvests and help 1.7 million people in October-December."

The UN agency will help two million in January-April next year, "but only if funding allows," said Verhoosel.

WFP said the recent abandoning of the US dollar and other currencies for commercial transactions has negatively impacted on the economy.

It said the official year-on-year inflation rate reached 176 per cent in June, with food prices soaring by 252 per cent and the actual rates could be even higher, severely impacting the poorest.

--IANS

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